By Ray Hamill — The McKinleyville Panthers have a lot of holes to fill this year if they want to defend their Big 5 championship, but their starting pitching shouldn’t be a problem.
On Saturday, reigning Big 5 MVP pitcher Cameron Saso got his senior campaign off to an impressive start, tossing a six-inning no-hitter to lead the Panthers to a doubleheader sweep at home to Willits.
McKinleyville took game one 9-5 and game two 10-0.
“He did what Cameron Saso does,” McKinleyville head coach Scott St. John said of the senior, who was only two errors from a perfect game and struck out 10. “In the three years I’ve been here he just amazes me.”
Junior Corbin Eichin, another player big things are expected out of this year, also had a big day, pitching four strong innings for the win in the opener and adding a two-run home run to left field in game two to highlight an 18-hit day for the home team.
Eichin gave up two hits and a walk, while striking out six.
Austin McConnell, who hasn’t played baseball in a couple of years, returned with a bang, finishing with four hits, including a double and an RBI in the nightcap.
It wasn’t all good news, however, for a new-look Panthers team that committed eight errors on the day, including six of them in the opener.
“We’re happy with the wins, but we’ve still got a lot of work to do,” St. John said.
Saso also had an impact at the plate, finishing with three hits, including a double, and three RBIs, while Eichin was 3-for-4 in the nightcap with three RBIs.
Jack Patton also had two hits and two RBIs in the second game, while T-Ryan Stumpf had a double in each game, with three RBIs.
“T-Ryan Stumpf hit the ball really well today,” St. John said. “And I thought he did a really good job behind the plate.”
Stumpf started at catcher for game one, with Kyler Carr starting there for game two.
Carr, Brayden Craven, Jake Reeser and Riley Bates each also had a hit.
Eureka 1, San Rafael 3
The Loggers fell at San Rafael, dropping to 1-3 on the young season.
Parker Rodgers continued his impressive start to the season with two hits and an RBI, while Keenan Morris finished 1-for-3 and scored the team’s only run.
Nate Fowler took the loss on the mound, pitching four innings.
All three San Rafael runs were unearned, with Fowler striking out one and not walking any batters.
Fortuna 10, Lower Lake 2
Fortuna 15, Lower Lake 1
The Huskies got their season off to a winning start, sweeping a doubleheader at Lower Lake.
The Fortuna bats came to play with numerous players finishing with multiple hits.
Branson Gans and Daeden Taylor each finished with three hits in each game, while Wyatt Wilson finished the day 5-for-7.
Regan Nyberg also had five hits on the day.
Gans pitched the win in the opener, while Wilson got the victory in game two.